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Kanex meDrive: A pocket-sized file server for iOS and OS X

Imagine having a way to access shared files from your Mac, PC, or iOS devices without needing to tie up a computer to act as a file server. That's the idea behind the Kanex meDrive (US$79), a tiny box that connects to your Wi-Fi router and any USB flash or hard drive, and then works with a free companion app to give you your own "personal file server" at home or office. Read the review, and then enter for a chance to win a meDrive courtesy of Kanex and TUAW.

Design

The meDrive is tiny and lightweight, measuring in at only about 2.25" x 3.5" x .88" and weighing just 5.4 ounces. On the meDrive are three ports -- a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port for connecting to a Wi-Fi router, a USB 2.0 port for connecting storage, and a mini-USB port for power. You'll need to supply your own USB power adapter and your own storage, the meDrive's firmware does the rest.

Functionality

Setup is incredibly easy and takes just a few seconds to accomplish. Run the included Ethernet cable between your router and the meDrive, plug in your drive (I tested the meDrive with a tiny 8 GB Apotop USB flash drive, but you could plug in a multi-terabyte hard drive just as easily), and then plug the included USB to mini-USB cable into the meDrive on one end and a USB power adapter on the other. A white LED glows to tell you that the meDrive is online, and you're ready to go.

From a Mac, connecting to the meDrive is easy -- in the Finder, select Go > Connect to Server and then type in "smb://medrive". When prompted, enter the user ID and password and then start loading the drive with files. Windows users just mount a drive to "\\medrive\usb01" for access.

iOS devices get their own free meDrive app, which allows attachment to any meDrives that are found on the same Wi-Fi network. Once again, a user ID and password must be entered for access to the storage connected to the meDrive.

The setup isn't exactly speedy, seeing that it's dependent on the speed of whatever drive you have attached. In my tests I tried both that little Apotop flash drive -- which was really slow -- and a USB 2.0 external HD that wasn't as bad. The iOS app provided a quick way to both save and open documents that were stored on the meDrive; I also used the WebDAV capabilities to save iWork documents using the "Copy to WebDAV" function built into the iWork apps.

Conclusion

For $79 plus the cost of whatever storage you want to add to it, the meDrive is an inexpensive and simple to use home file server. Sure, it's not going to be as fast or have as much storage as a Mac mini running OS X Server, but it's certainly a lot easier to set up and maintain.

Pros

  • Truly plug-and-play setup
  • Free universal app works well to access meDrive from iOS devices
  • Compatible with both OS X and Windows through SMB protocol

Cons

  • User must provide own USB power brick
  • Slow compared to dedicated file servers costing much more

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who wants an easy-to-use shared file server that can be accessed from virtually any device

Giveaway

Now it's your turn to set up your household file server for sharing content to all the family members. Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before August 1, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a Kanex meDrive valued at US$79
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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